Scientists working for the UK government are considering imposing a ban on lamb on the bone or over a year old, as part of a plan aimed at reducing the risk of people developing vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - the human form of mad cow disease).

Such a measure would considerably cut the risk of meat from BSE-infected sheep making its way into the food chain. However, it could face strong resistance from farmers struggling to make a livelihood after last year's foot and mouth crisis, not least because there is no evidence that Britain's sheep have been infected with BSE.

The Food Standards Agency yesterday discussed various options including outlawing lamb in these categories, and a report will be published for public consultation at the end of March.
 
The agency stressed: "The risk remains theoretical and the agency is not advising against the consumption of lamb."